On the road again, we’re traveling down the road again……
Wheeewwwww after landing back at the Auckland airport, Tyler and I have been on the road for the last month and a half. Actually if you do not count the three days we went briefly back to Mount Maunganui to collect the rest of our stuff and say goodbye to our flat mates, (we miss you guys already!!) Tyler and I have not stayed in one place for more than two nights since March 19th. That’s a lot of campsites and hotel rooms in the last 10 weeks. After collecting our mate Scottie from the airport after landing from Samoa, we attempted to go up to Northland for 5 days to surf. Scottie had never been to NZ before so he was super stoked to drive down with us and surf some New Zealand waves and we were so excited to catch up with him and spend some Scottie time. Unfortunately mother nature completely ruined our plans for the first week. The weather forecast showed five days of hard New Zealand rain, and it was going to take over much of the North Island. Our five days there was pretty rained out, but we did get some sandboarding in at Shipwrecks Bay one morning, and we got to show Scottie the glow worms at a cave tour near Whangarei.
After briefly visiting Mount Maunganui for a couple days to pack up, show Scottie the Mount and some fun breaks in our local hood, it was time to drive down to the South Island. Lucy was pretty packed as we had 7 surfboards alone, plus Scottie’s stuff and all of our NZ belongings. I was sitting in the back seat and for the most part felt like a monkey getting ready to get shot off into space the way I was packed into my little seat. Our first day, we drove down the Taranaki coast, and the boys got to surf Stent road at the surf highway. They were stoked as the surf was good and there was only three groms out. We had a great little camp spot (honor box system which I love) right on the coast that night and got the best view of the stars since moving here.
The ferry over to the South Island was beautiful, we got so lucky on how pretty (and smooth) the weather was. I was super surprised however, how small the town of Picton is (did I miss it?) For being a port town, it sure is tiny. Blenheim, the next town over is so much larger it was funny to me that a town that gets cruise ships and ferries can be so small.
One important thing we learned as we made our way down the East Coast of the South island is that anytime you drive into a town that is a little bigger on the map, you will probably be camping in either a holiday park, or in someones back yard they made into a accommodation for campers and camper vans. Better to camp in between towns and off the beaten path, that is when you will find beautiful (and way cheaper) spots on rivers, lakes, and empty beaches.
Our first stop on the South Island was wine country in Blenheim, where we spent the night and tasted some wines on the way out at Yealand’s winery. In Marlborough alone, there are over 148 wineries to choose from, so if you wanted to, you could be wine tasting for weeks. We were on a tight schedule unfortunately so we only hit up one winery. We had 4 days to make it down to Queenstown so we were in a bit of a rush, plus the boys were anxious to do some fishing. We then drove to Hanmer Springs, which honestly was disappointing (think total tourist trap). If it wasn’t such a “NZ Must Do” that I had heard about, I would have just marked it off as another cute South Island town that happened to have a hot springs. Seriously, it’s not that great for being so hyped up.
Scottie and Tyler really wanted to fish at that point before making the last leg to Queenstown, so we did a long drive down and ended up camping on a river bed for two nights right outside of Kurow. Kurow is a super small town (blink and you will miss it) but is the hometown of a certain All Blacks Rugby Captain named Richie McCaw, so there are pictures of him posted everywhere. The camp spot we chose was also a honor box system and besides one other camper, was completely deserted.
I would say that our time at that campsite was legendary but we had a unfortunately incident that put a damper on the last night before driving to Queenstown. The night started off great with wine being consumed by me and Jamison by the boys. It was Scottie’s last night camping so we had to go big…right? We all drank some wine and Jamo to celebrate fishing not catching all day and then went to bed. Since I wasn’t tired yet I tried to read as Tyler slept beside me. About a hour later (about 11:00 pm I think) I started hearing footsteps walking toward our campsite. There was not a single person for at least a mile except one family that had pulled in earlier that day, so the fact that I was hearing footsteps in the middle of the night coming into our campsite was very concerning. We were also camped on the end of a small peninsula, so there is no reason anyone would need to walk anywhere near or through our site. I start freaking out in the tent when I heard footsteps come closer, then pause just beside Lucy and our tent. At this point, I try and wake Tyler up (to do what I don’t know, I just didn’t want to be the only one to die conscious at the hand of some axe-murderer). Tyler has trouble waking up fully and grabbing a hold of whats going on, every time I nudged him he just mumbled something and tried to turn over. I then hear footsteps walk further into our site and towards Scottie’s tent and then trip onto our trash and beer bottle pile, so I start yelling at Tyler “someones in our campsite get up!!!” half to warn the intruder we are up and aware they are there and half to try and seriously wake Tyler. Tyler finally comes fully awake and walks out of the tent to investigate with his phone flashlight and I am peeking my head out the tent shaking to try to see whats going on.
What happens? The intruder has vanished and Tyler comes back convinced I am completely crazy and pretty pissed I woke him up. He lays down and dozes off again while I open up my book again to try and calm down. Not but 20 minutes later, I hear the footsteps again and my murderer is back, but weirdly he again trips on the trash pile? This time I sit frozen in my sleeping bag listening as he makes his way closer to our tent. I then hear heavy breathing as the footsteps grow closer…. and then a big SNORT/OINK. A FREAKING WILD BOAR WAS INVADING OUR CAMPSITE the whole time not a axe-murderer THANK GOD. As soon as I figure this out and happy I am going to live another day I turn over and go to sleep. Unfortunately Scottie was not so lucky. Unaware with my run in earlier in the night ( I cant believe he slept through me yelling at Tyler), he too had heard footsteps coming through the campsite earlier, but it wasn’t until he got up and left his tent to use the bathroom that he figured out what it was. As he was peeing by a large tree the boar came around the tree and charged at him…… snorting. Scottie had no clue what it was and ran for his life back to the tent (his pants may or may not have been halfway to his ankles). As soon as he saw the thing properly and figured out it was a Kiwi Pumba he went back out and finished his business as the pig had left and ran off. We discussed the next morning and figured that Scottie had maybe actually accidentally pee’d on the thing as it was relaxing by the river and it charged out of anger… LOL. Meanwhile Tyler was pretty much sleeping peacefully throughout this entire episode and didn’t find out until the next morning that we really did have something (ok not someone but it was freaking scary until I figured out what it was) going through our campsite.
After our not so restful night we packed up and headed off to Queenstown. We had heard a lot about Queenstown from both Kiwis and our friends that had visited us. We had heard such great things about the town and how beautiful it is, and seriously was not disappointed. The place is breathtaking, and may be one of the prettiest towns I have ever visited. It is definitely a must do if you ever come to New Zealand. We reserved another Airbnb for a couple nights so the boys could get their adrenaline fill and we could meet my parents at the Queenstown Airport. As Scottie wrapped up his trip, my parents were now coming in for 2 1/2 week tour of the South Island. Scottie’s last two days went out with a bang as the first day they played Mario Cart at the Queenstown Luge, the second day they jumped off a bridge and the last day Scottie and Tyler jumped 15,000 feet out of a perfectly good airplane. Scottie then went wine tasting with us then got dropped off at the airport to fly home back to California. As I have already skydived and had no interest in bungee jumping, I was perfectly happy being a photographer and driver for the weekend. We had so much fun sending Scottie off in style by showing him Queenstown with his heart racing from adrenaline, I think it’s safe to say he had a great time.